A closer look: City attorney rescinds resignation, stays on after city manager matches job offer salary
LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Doanh “Zone” Nguyen had been on the job for over a year when he suddenly announced his resignation, citing an opportunity to work for a former client of his -- the Killam’s.
However, the thought of losing yet another city attorney may have proved too much for the city, because in a turn of events, Laredo City Manager Joseph Neeb offered to match the salary the Killams were offering him, going from $200,000 a year to $260,000.
Nguyen tells us that the increase was enough to keep him at the city, but the change in his contract needed to go before city council for approval.
That didn’t sit well with one council member at their most recent meeting.
District 2 councilwoman Daisy Campos-Rodriguez shared, “This individual, on stuff that I’ve been put through, can not be trusted on my end. I just feel that he is hiding stuff from Council, and he’s not doing the proper--he’s not following the proper policies and procedures. Because I just found out about it, my question is: if I wouldn’t have, what would have happened? If I hadn’t found out, this would have gone through.”
Turns out, about a week before the meeting, Nguyen sent a letter on city letterhead to the 4th Court of Appeals respectfully urging them to “render a decision in the election contest/appeal of Daisy Campos Rodriguez v. Ricardo “Richie” Rangel Jr. case”.
The letter notes that “The election contest was contentious. There are still strong opinions voiced about who should serve in the District 2 position. The community is anxiously awaiting your decision.”.
Then, days later on November 3rd, three days before the council meeting, Nguyen sent the court a second letter.
This one retracted the first, simply stating that the city’s request to render a decision in the case was “made without city council resolution”.
Even so, council member Dr. Tyler King was quick to offer his support by saying, “Mayor, I fully support the salary change and I fully support Mr. Zone. I personally appreciate you and I especially appreciate when you tell me no,” which drew laughs. Dr. King continued by saying, “That is what you’re here for and I appreciate that, and I would call for the question.”
That was a sentiment shared by the remaining council members as the vote to adjust Nguyen’s salary to keep him on as the city attorney passed on a roll call vote of 7-1.
Ironically, one week after this meeting, the 4th Court of Appeals did render their decision naming Ricardo “Richie” Rangel Jr. the rightful winner of the District 2 seat.
Looking back on the turnover of city attorneys, in a six-year time span between 2017 and 2023, Nguyen is the fifth attorney the city has hired.
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